A perspective from Perth, Western Australia

Thursday, November 08, 2001

Nice sterile letter for consumption of the masses.

I saw the anti-gay-rights protest outside Parliament House today. Part of me was amused by the spectacle, and part of me deeply saddened that the representatives of Christianity, whose message is one of hope or redemption for *all*, actually believe their own garbled form of the message. Margaret Court (former champion tennis player) of Victory Life Centre, and Barry Hickey, the Catholic archbishop of Perth, were among the speakers. For those not aware, the WA Catholic Church has its own skeletons - in particular with regard to their treatment of orphans and others at the Christian Brothers schools.

Link 1 (Lateline)
Link 2 (Lateline)
Link 3

For the record, I used to be a member of one of the more extreme Protestant churches (used to be known as Rhema) - Margaret Court went to this church before starting her own ministry. I left in 1995 because I became very concerned at the way things were going, some sections of the group were very cult-like in the way they operated.

Anyway, my letter:
Dear Editor,

I was quite bemused to see the protest rally outside Parliament House yesterday, holding signs up like "Protect our young boys" and denouncing gay relationships.

Equally so that the representatives of a church which have paid millions in legal fees for their clergy's defence against some of the worst abuse cases WA has ever seen against young boys, were among the speakers at this rally.

I challenge the movements at the head of this protest to explain why they are so opposed to gay relationships being regarded the same as heterosexual defacto relationships, without using the word "immoral" or the words of the Bible. After all, the church regards these defacto relationships as being immoral and sinful too, so why single out gays?

Update: predictably, The West didn't print it. Oh well. Some interesting letters did get published however:

1. Hooray, Kabul is free from the mob of vicious extremist thugs who have used their religious fundamentalism as justification for telling everyone else how they should live their lives.

Meanwhile here in WA, we have Margaret Court and her mob of fundamentalists, including the usual suspects among your letter writers, insisting that what God has told them on their personal hotline must override policies which our secular Government clearly declared before its democratic election [State election in Feb 2001].

- Nick Suess, Bayswater


2. I see that religion, once again, is being touted as an excuse for humans to inflict pain and suffering on others by forcing everyone to try to bend to their way of thinking.

How are these so-called Christians who voice their opinions against gay law reform on these pages any different to Osama bin Laden? He, too, wanted to make the world think as he does and he didn't care who was hurt or killed in the process - supposedly on orders from his god. At least bin Laden has an excuse - he is a madman. What excuse do they have?

- Ryan Nicholas, Maylands


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A real shame, it would have made a big difference to a lot of the rubbish on the letters' pages there.

What you forgot to mention too is that people at the protest (I work nearby so didn't have a choice to simply walk away) were yelling the most hateful and horrible things about gay people - I'd hate to think what their reaction would be if their son or daughter turned out to be gay. Then again, I think basic Christian charity/sympathy is beyond these so-called Christians, who would probably ditch their children on the street to fend for themselves given half a chance.

I think you hit the nail right on the head about the problems the Church itself has had with sexual molestation. Maybe this was a bit too close to the bone for some and the Editor (who is, from the tenor of recent editorials, somewhat conservative) decided not to publish it. That would be my thoughts.

Best of luck to you. We need more intelligent young people with a sense of direction to get our country moving again. The generations running the country now have had their chance, and largely failed to make the world or this country a better place.

I've emailed you my email address if you wish to discuss this further.

10:58 am

Anonymous adrian t said...

nice letter, solid too ... I agree that it should have been published.

The sex abuse cases are still being fought in the courts, defended with money people thought they were giving to God. And these same people are standing up and suggesting that I, a 17 year old gay guy, should be considered a criminal, as should my partner, despite the fact we have a consenting, loving relationship and that that relationship means more than anyone could imagine to both of us.

It's interesting that the churches with guts are finally realising that there's really no difference - the Uniting and Anglican churches for instance.

I'm getting sick of this "conservative backlash" we've seen in the last 2 years against the improved equality and fairness for minorities - as evidenced by the support for Howard (who has openly condemned homosexuality, despite the fact as many as 1.5 million Australians are gay or bisexual) and One Nation, who have expressed similar views. (I still think the Christian Democratic Party is a bad joke and most Christians aren't fooled by it).

(bit of soapboxing/preaching here, sorry Andrew) I know that *regardless* of what the so called Christians who attended that rally think, the God I have come to know, who is described by Jesus in the Gospels, loves me for everything that I am. Throughout Jesus's lifetime he promoted tolerance, compassion and understanding. Love as described in 1 Cor 13 and as preached by jesus in the form "love thy neighbour", doesn't seem to include the hatred expressed at that little meeting last week. I'm glad McGinty isn't swayed by them.

10:58 am

Blogger Andrew said...

Christians, to me, are like any other large group - fractious and widespread in their opinions. Everything from liberal, tolerant and ethical through to the sort of fundamentalism I was complaining about in the letter at the top of this page.

10:59 am

Anonymous adrian t said...

my views are basically that there are Christians who strive to be Christ-like in their life and don't get bogged down in legalism, and Christians that have forgotten the message somewhere along the way.

I was reading about "Islamism" tonight, which is the section of Islam which is trying to get rid of all corrupt modern influences and establish an Islam state on Shariah law. I was struck by how much it reminded me of fundamentalist Christianity and how evil it can be, and has been at times and places in history.

The basic message of Christianity is one of hope and tolerance for all. Somewhere between "the end times" and "revivals" all that got lost by sections of the church in the 20th century, and while the last decade of the last century served a purpose in helping to expose the movement's leaders as con artists and immoral even by their own standards, that hasn't filtered through to many of the followers yet.

Definitely the churches as a whole just do not understand why people are leaving them in favour of smaller groups, personal meditation or non-practice. As Christians have got more educated, they have been able to read the liberating text of Jesus's words, without all the incumbrances(sp?) placed upon those words by the church, which says "you must do this" and "you must do that" even though the backing for these comes either from Jewish law, or from other than the words of Jesus.

It took me four years to deal with my doubts about the church's message, and dealing with that subject (through which process I left the church) I have been able to come to terms with other facets of my being - my personality, my sense of humour, my sexuality ... and I can laugh my head off at Barry Hickey and Margaret Court spouting off about that which they do not know. I doubt either is capable of rising to the challenge you set in your (unpublished) letter, but it won't stop them circulating their hatred, fear and prejudice.

Someday I'll get around to compiling a little brochure or something, "What Jesus REALLY said about..." with quotes from the Bible stressing his rejection of hatred and judgemntalism in favour of love, compassion and tolerance. Most of the rest comes from the work of Paul, who even by his own hand we know never met Jesus personally.

10:59 am


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